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Feds oppose Calif. Prop 19 to legalize marijuana

  1. Balzafire
    WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California even if the state's voters approve a ballot measure to legalize the drug.

    Holder says the Justice Department strongly opposes California's Proposition 19 and remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states.

    He made the comments in a letter to former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated Wednesday.

    "We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," Holder wrote.

    He also said that legalizing recreational marijuana in California would be a "significant impediment" to the government's joint efforts with state and local law enforcement to target drug traffickers, who often distribute marijuana alongside cocaine and other drugs. Holder said approval of the ballot measure would "significantly undermine" efforts to keep California communities safe.

    If Proposition 19 passes in November, California would become the first state to legalize and regulate recreational pot use. Adults could possess up to one ounce of the drug.

    California already allows medical marijuana.

    By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
    Associated Press
    October 15, 2010


  1. thewhitehouse
    lol. a "serious undermining" of the drug war efforts. Ha ha ha. Sounds like the feds are getting nervous that they are going to be losing the war soon.
    Nice post.
  2. godztear
    That most likely would be the issue pushed by this article.

    What I understand this article to mean is that even though (if passed) the people of California have voted threw democracy to invalidate the prohibition of marijuana, the federal government will put more money into restricting their freedom of choice; money that could be used elsewhere to progress American interests and progression.
  3. robinweed
    wouldn't be better to take a drug away from the gangs its like taking money from them, then you have to ask your self what will become the next gateway drug k2 when it becomes illegal.
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    Feds’ Warning on Legal Pot Bad News for Big Growers

    The federal government made it clear today that it will continue to enforce drug laws even if California votes to legalize marijuana on Nov. 2.

    Observers said the Obama administration’s pronouncement that it would continue to “vigorously enforce” the laws against people buying, selling, or growing marijuana for recreational use would have a greater effect on big pot impresarios rather than the average stoner if Proposition 19 passes.

    “I don’t see them coming in and taking down people with their little five-foot by five- foot gardens,” said Bill Panzer, an Oakland lawyer who helped write seminal state legislation on medical marijuana.

    The feds, Panzer speculated, would more likely be interested in big marijuana growing operations like the ones that are going to be permitted in Oakland.

    Prop. 19 would allow Californians 21 and older to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana and possess up to an ounce for personal use. It gives cities and counties the power over commercial production and sale.

    Polls show that it will be close vote on Prop. 19. A Reuters polls this week has the initiative losing 53 percent to 43 percent. A Field poll released in late September had Prop. 19 winning 49 percent to 42 percent. Check out all the latest polls here.

    In a letter made public today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that “We will vigorously enforce [drug laws] against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law,"

    The Prop. 19 campaign fired back with a statement from one of its supporters, Joseph McNamara, a retired San Jose chief of police.

    "If the federal government wants to keep fighting the nation’s failed 'war on marijuana' while we're in the midst of a sagging economic recovery and two wars, it just proves that the establishment politicians' priorities are wrongly focused on maintaining the status quo,” said McNamera. "As will be shown on Nov. 2, Californians are not going to let politicians in Washington, DC tell them how to vote."

    State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has long pushed for legalization, said that Holder's letter was a measure of the movement’s success.

    “I think he’s just covering his ass,” said Ammiano. “When it looks like something is going to happen, then they either try to make it go away or cover their asses.”

    If the initiative passes, legal ambiguity will no doubt ensue in many respects. Lawyer Panzer said provisions that give cities regulatory power "creates potentially a huge can of worms where you could have 463 different laws in California."

    However, Panzer said that the feds would have a hard time striking down Prop. 19 in court, even if they start making arrests on the ground.

    “The feds can strike something down is if there is a conflict between two laws,” Panzer said. “If California made it mandatory to possess cannabis then you have a conflict, but with 215 [the medical marijuana law] and 19 there’s no conflict.”

    By Zusha Elinson on October 15, 2010

  5. Lethargy
    We see this as a preemptive strike by the Feds, more to sway those middle-ground voters in CA to vote against Prop 19 than a statement of fact. They also get to remind big companies that they can still seize money and property gained from the sale of "legal" cannabis, driving away potential funding. Likely if it does pass the DEA will quickly back down or suffer from a public backlash if they do enforce the federal law.
  6. Balzafire
  7. Columbia U neuroscience
    the government is acting unconstitutional and has no right to intefer

    We hear so much about the Federal Government's Constitutional right to "Regulate Interstate Commerce". Under the so-called "Interstate Commerce Clause" we hear that FEDERAL law trumps state law and that this is Constitutional. Again, it's obvious that you don't have to have any knowledge of the Constitution, or its' intent in order to be a judge in the federal judiciary.
    The so called "Interstate Commerce clause" can be found in the preamble to Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution. What it says is that (I am paraphrasing here to make it more simple to my liberal judiciary friends) Congress has the ability to Regulate Interstate Commerce in order to promote the general welfare....and here's the caveate....AS OUTLINED IN THE FOLLOWING 18 INNUMERATED POWERS!
    What does all of this mean? Well, again, referring to the debate minutes from the ratification debates of the 1787-1789....and in fact, Madison's own words written in Federalist 41, we see that the founders never intended for the Federal Government to run roughshod over all commerce between the states....As Madison points out, (Paraphrasing again) "If the federal government was given the whole power to oversee all commerce between the states, why then would we have specifically innumerated functional powers".
    In fact, the federal government's role was only to moderate differences in say, trade practices between states when there may have been disagreement between states. Simply put...."To make regular" trade and commerce between the states.
    What we have grown to see, is that the Federal government has actually usurped regulatory power, under the non-exsistant "Interstate Commerce Clause" for no other reason than control. This, by definition is A. Irrefutable from a historical perspective and B. Blatantly, UNCONSTITUTIONAL....

    No authority for any sort of law enforcement was ever given to the federal government. I believe all of your alphabet soup agencies ie, ATF, FBI, DEA OSHA, FDA etc etc....All of them are clearly not powers granted to the Federal government....Article 1 Section 8 clearly gives the power of all "legislating to congress....So your FDA and EPA's....Who gave them that power? So, It's clearly a States rights, 10th Amendment issue

    I realize this is a semantics thing...But there is no such thing as "Constitutional Rights" All the Constitution does is sets the parameters for the Federal government. Or more simply, LIMITS the FEDERAL government.
  8. talltom
    Smoke and Horrors
    NY Times
    October 22, 2010

    Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s recent chest-thumping against the California ballot initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana underscores how the war on drugs in this country has become a war focused on marijuana, one being waged primarily against minorities and promoted, fueled and financed primarily by Democratic politicians.

    According to a report released Friday by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project for the Drug Policy Alliance and the N.A.A.C.P. and led by Prof. Harry Levine, a sociologist at the City University of New York: “In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half-a-million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African-Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially men.”

    For instance, the report says that the City of Los Angeles “arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.”

    This imbalance is not specific to California; it exists across the country.

    One could justify this on some level if, in fact, young blacks and Hispanics were using marijuana more than young whites, but that isn’t the case. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, young white people consistently report higher marijuana use than blacks or Hispanics.

    How can such a grotesquely race-biased pattern of arrests exist? Professor Levine paints a sordid picture: young police officers are funneled into low-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods where they are encouraged to aggressively stop and frisk young men. And if you look for something, you’ll find it. So they find some of these young people with small amounts of drugs. Then these young people are arrested. The officers will get experience processing arrests and will likely get to file overtime, he says, and the police chiefs will get a measure of productivity from their officers. The young men who were arrested are simply pawns.

    Professor Levine has documented an even more devious practice in New York City, where possessing a small amount of marijuana is just a civil violation (so is a speeding ticket), but having it “open to public view” is a misdemeanor.

    According to a report he issued in September 2009: “Police typically discovered the marijuana by stopping and searching people, often by tricking and intimidating them into revealing it. When people then took out the marijuana and handed it over, they were arrested and charged with the crime of having marijuana ‘open to public view.’ ”

    And these arrests are no minor matter. They can have very serious, lifelong consequences.

    For instance, in 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a provision that made people temporarily or permanently ineligible for federal financial aid depending on how many times they had been arrested and convicted of a drug offense. The law took effect in 2000, and since 2006 lawmakers have been working to soften it. But the effect was real and devastating: the people most in need of financial aid were also being the most targeted for marijuana arrests and were therefore the most at risk of being frozen out of higher education. Remember that the next time someone starts spouting statistics comparing the number of black men in prison with the number in college.

    The arrests also have consequences for things like housing and employment. In fact, in her fascinating new book, “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander argues that the American justice system is being used to create a permanent “undercaste — a lower caste of individuals who are permanently barred by law and custom from mainstream society” and to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics in the same way that Jim Crow laws were once used to discriminate against blacks.

    This wave of arrests is partially financed, either directly or indirectly, by federal programs like the Byrne Formula Grant Program, which was established by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 to rev up the war on drugs. Surprisingly, this program has become the pet project of Democrats, not Republicans.

    Whatever his motives, President George W. Bush sought to eliminate the program. Conservative groups backed his proposal, saying the program “has proved to be an ineffective and inefficient use of resources.”

    But Democrats would have none of it. In the last year of the Bush administration, financing had been reduced to $170 million. In March of that year, 56 senators signed onto a “bipartisan” letter to ranking members of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to restore nearly $500 million to the program. Only 15 Republicans signed the letter.

    Even candidate Obama promised that he would restore funding to the program.

    The 2009 stimulus package presented these Democrats with the opportunity, and they seized it. The legislation, designed by Democrats and signed by President Obama, included $2 billion for Byrne Grants to be awarded by the end of September 2010. That was nearly a 12-fold increase in financing. Whatever the merits of these programs, they are outweighed by the damage being done. Financing prevention is fine. Financing a race-based arrest epidemic is not.

    Why would Democrats support a program that has such a deleterious effect on their most loyal constituencies? It is, in part, callous political calculus. It’s an easy and relatively cheap way for them to buy a tough-on-crime badge while simultaneously pleasing police unions. The fact that they are ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic men and, by extension, the communities they belong to barely seems to register.

    This is outrageous and immoral and the Democrat’s complicity is unconscionable, particularly for a party that likes to promote its social justice bona fides.

    No one knows all the repercussions of legalizing marijuana, but it is clear that criminalizing it has made it a life-ruining racial weapon. As Ms. Alexander told me, “Our failed war on drugs has done incalculable damage.”

    When will politicians have the courage to stand up, acknowledge this fact and stop allowing young minority men to be collateral damage?
  9. Balzafire
  10. thundercles
    Yup, I imagine the federal government will diligently enforce federal law despite prop 19, just like they are doing now with the medicinal marijuana card holders. With all the medicinal marijuana related federal arrests going on right now of course one can only imagine they will pursue the rest of the population of California with the same vigilance and overall noticeable presence. Any new pot growers and retailers that start as a result will be shaking in their boots just as much as the 4000 or whatever openly operating despensarys are now.

    I just can't wait to see how massive the federal prison complex big enough to hold millions of Californians will be. One thing is for sure, the DEA had better be hiring, they'll be mighty busy enforcing the federal laws over there. It'll be like half of California works for the DEA and the other half sells pot. And when the DEA half finally arrests the whole other half, they can all just change jobs and work as Corrections Officers.
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